Before the Orioles' last series against the Rays, manager Buck Showalter discussed his team's need to limit its offensive streakiness. Starting on Friday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, the O's will take on a Twins team that's been going through the same highs and lows of late.
Baltimore managed just four runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Cubs last weekend -- before exploding for nine runs on five homers against Tampa Bay in their series opener. Meanwhile, after Minnesota scored 42 runs in four weekend games against the Tigers, the Twins were held to one run apiece in losses to the Royals on Tuesday and Wednesday -- but they hung 11 on Kansas City on Thursday.
Of course, the two teams couldn't be more different as far as their positions in the standings go. The Orioles, after taking three of four games from Tampa Bay, are 20 games over .500 and have a seven-game lead in the American League East. Minnesota is just as firmly in last in the AL Central after losing its series to the division-leading Royals, 2-1.
In anticipation of Baltimore's upcoming series, Showalter commented on the Twins' unenviable position of playing contenders down the stretch while they are out of the race.
"You're always trying to bridge two things," the Baltimore skipper said. "Trying to be honorable to the competition and have some integrity of the competition, but also to make sure when you get through with those games, that you're able to make better decisions on what you need to do in the future, so you're not playing those type of games anymore."
When the O's and Twins open their series Friday, Baltimore right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will face off against Minnesota righty Trevor May.
With Baltimore's lack of offense in the sweep by the Cubs, Gonzalez lost his last start, despite holding Chicago to two runs in 6 1/3 innings. He has faced the Twins once this year, a losing effort on May 4, when he allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Twins rookie May has lost his first three Major League starts and has an 8.79 ERA in four total appearances. In his last start against Detroit, he couldn't capitalize, even with the Twins offense clicking, giving up 11 hits and five runs in 5 1/3 innings as Minnesota fell, 8-6.
"One thing I've learned is guys don't give you anything. You've got to scratch for every inch you get," May said. "I've learned it the hard way, obviously."
Orioles: Bench depth added by promoting Paredes
Until a handful of hours before the Orioles' 3-1 loss to the Rays on Wednesday, the O's had been operating with a three-man bench for the start of an 11-game homestand. Less than 24 hours later, that number was up to five after Jimmy Paredes joined the club.
Baltimore recalled Paredes from Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday as the corresponding move for Kevin Gausman being optioned to the Gulf Coast League Orioles after Wednesday's game.
Paredes was batting .258 with three home runs and four stolen bases in 32 games with Norfolk since being acquired from the Royals in July. He went 2-for-10 with a pair of steals in nine games with the Royals earlier this year.
"I was a little bit surprised," Paredes said. "I feel so excited."
Paredes did not play in Thursday's finale against the Rays, a 5-4 Baltimore win.
Twins: Mauer gets planned break in finale vs. KC
For the first time since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 11, first baseman Joe Mauer's name was absent from the lineup card Thursday.
This was a mandate handed down by manager Ron Gardenhire before the Twins' series finale with the Royals.
"I told him, 'No matter what, you're out. You're going to sit today'," Gardenhire said.
And yet, Mauer pinch-hit in the 10th inning of Minnesota's 11-5 win, drawing a walk during a six-run inning for the Twins. He stayed in the game at first base for the bottom of the inning.
• Baltimore's Adam Jones was credited with a steal of home in the first inning of the Orioles' 5-4 win Thursday.
With Nelson Cruz on first and Jones on third, Cruz jogged toward second, drawing a throw from Rays catcher Jose Molina. Cruz got into a rundown and Jones broke for home, beating the throw from shortstop Yunel Escobar.
• When Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe hit his 38th double of the year Wednesday, he set the Twins' single-season record for doubles by a third baseman, passing Corey Koskie's mark of 37.
David Adler is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.